Children: The Missing Face of AIDS
UNICEF said that children affected by the disease are the “missing face” of AIDS – missing not only from global and national policy discussions on HIV/AIDS, but also lacking access to even the most basic care and prevention services. Millions of children are missing parents, siblings, schooling, health care, basic protection and many of the other fundamentals of childhood because of the toll the disease is taking, the two UN institutions said.
In addition, an estimated 15 million children have lost at least one parent because of AIDS. Yet less than 10 per cent of children orphaned and made vulnerable by AIDS receive public support or services. In sub-Saharan
“Nearly 25 years into the pandemic, help is reaching less than 10 per cent of the children affected by HIV/AIDS, leaving too many children to grow up alone, grow up too fast or not grow up at all,” Secretary-General Annan said. “Simply put, AIDS is wreaking havoc on childhood.”
Veneman said that in some of the hardest-hit countries, particularly in sub-Saharan
“In the past quarter-century, HIV/AIDS has claimed the lives of more than 20 million people and lowered average life expectancy in the hardest-hit countries by as much as 30 years,” Veneman said. “A whole generation has never known a world free of HIV and AIDS, yet the magnitude of the problem dwarfs the scale of the response so far.”
Changing the picture with the "Four Ps"The global campaign aims to achieve measurable progress for children based on internationally agreed goals in four key result areas:
Prevention of mother-to-child transmission: The vast majority of the half-million children under the age of 15 who die from AIDS-related illnesses every year contract HIV through mother-to-child transmission. The campaign aims by 2010 to provide 80 per cent of women in need with access to services to prevent transmission of HIV to their babies. Currently less than 10 per cent of women have access to these services.
Pediatric treatment: Less than 5 per cent of HIV-positive children in need of AIDS treatment are receiving it, and only 1 per cent of children born to HIV-infected mothers have access to cotrimoxazole, a low-cost antibiotic that can nearly halve child deaths from AIDS by fighting off deadly infections. The campaign aims by 2010 to provide antiretroviral treatment and/or cotrimoxazole to 80 per cent of children in need.
Prevention: Adolescents and young people age 15-24 account for roughly half of all new HIV infections, but the vast majority of young people have no access to the information, skills and services needed to protect themselves from HIV. The campaign aims by 2010 to reduce the percentage of young people living with HIV by 25 per cent, in line with agreed international goals.
Protection and support of children affected by AIDS: By 2010, it is estimated that there will be 18 million children who have lost at least one parent to AIDS in sub-Saharan
The two organizations welcomed the commitment of a number of governments to prioritize children affected by HIV/AIDS by allocating funding to children.
“AIDS continues to tear apart families and communities, leaving behind 15 million orphans and robbing countries of their future,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot. “If countries are to develop, we must put children first. Children must therefore be a major priority when it comes to the way we allocate and use resources.”
National leaders participating in events to launch the campaign around the world include the Presidents of India, El Salvador, Brazil, Mozambique and Djibouti; the Prime Ministers of the Netherlands, Ireland and Trinidad and Tobago; and the Foreign Minister of Australia.
Global: Alfred Ironside, UNICEF Media /